The Western Force have started their search for a new coach despite the awkward situation of the incumbent John Mitchell hanging around until the end of the 2011 Super 14 season.
The Force were left stunned on Wednesday when Mitchell's management company distributed an email announcing their client would not seek reappointment when his current deal expires at the end of 2011.
The club was only made aware of Mitchell's decision hours before the email was sent.
While Mitchell is adamant he'll see out his contract, the Force chief executive Vern Reid has left the door ajar for the former All Black coach to be replaced in time for the start of next season.
Reid believes Mitchell's early announcement will help the Force secure a world-class replacement.
Mitchell refuses to clarify what led him to the decision and says he's totally committed to his contract right until the end.